Yes, above MSRP...broke all my own rules about buying/selling automobiles. Now you've made me think of the day I picked Plain Jane up...I apologize, up front, for the length of what follows:
The Day of Days…or, The Day I Picked Up My Challenger
It was a dark, stormy, rainy night in the best of times and the worst of times, but don’t call me Ishmael. Nope, this will not be a novel, but the day of days started years before.
I had heard that Dodge was reintroducing the Challenger, but I had not seen one in the flesh. I saw an advertisement that the new Dodge Challenger was at a local dealership (in Ohio) so I did a touch-and-go there. I ain’t necessarily small. As a matter of fact, to get into the Ford Mustang, and to a lesser extent, the Chevrolet Camaro, I have to butter my Left Tackle hips, then squat, and sink my 6’4” connected cranium/chin combination into my chest to have a prayer to make it under the weather seals of the roofline. After that, I have to be a contortionist to “twist” my svelte 350 pounds into the seat, legs under the steering wheel and “hope” there’s room to hit the clutch. Well, usually there isn’t…but then there’s the Challenger.
I sat in the manual shift optioned object of my affection (can’t remember if it was a 5 or 6 speed then) and reveled in the room I had “discovered”, the ease of actuating the clutch/brake/throttle/gearshift in various combinations, the ample head room and, of course, the sweet rumble that the specifically-chosen-to-test-sit SRT8 had. Did I mention I could easily buckle the seat belt without gyrating my child bearing hips out of whack (they stayed in-whack)!? Awesome!! No, no test drive. My blood was rushing, but it was not finding itself behind my eye sockets. That was a few years ago, but the memory lingered like the first of many firsts.
Fast forward to 2014, a great wife who knows me better than I will probably ever know myself, first retirement, at least five moves half of which were international, three of six children still at home, four cats, four dogs and a mortgage…yeah, buddy, living on the edge. Somewhere in there I read about the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and lusted for the horsepower and torque in stock form from the factory. Come order time, the cupboard was bare and the promise of a brighter tomorrow was merely a dream…still the Hellcat roared in my brain and the price tag burned a hole through my soul. I received my first crushing reality, to wit, “…unless you ordered a Hellcat, you have a better chance of getting pregnant than getting one any time this decade”.
After making a living having a plan “B” and the gods of Mount Olympus taking a margin of pity on my bank account, I intonated through inner dialogue and subsequently to the sales manager, “OK, let’s go for the Challenger Core392 with Shaker…that is way cool and who needs seven hundred and seven horsepower? Four hundred and eighty-five would do just fine, in sublime green, shaker and black leather, don’t you know?” Then the second crushing reality unceremoniously delivered by my local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealer was proffered, “...oh, Mr. Dodge Challenger-want-to-own-one-with-that-option-package, you’ll have to wait until the books open up for ordering early in 2015…late availability, ya know!” I had had it with Dodge, the two crushing realities in 48 hours and started looking seriously at the Chevy Camaro ZL1…I could get that NOW (with extra butter for my hips)!
I’m a car troller. I was tortured by the autotrader ads that said “Hellcat, MSRP $$$$, come get yours, etc., etc., etc.,”. I’d call, they’d say, “oh that’s already picked up and we just didn’t take it down from our site”, or the shotgun blast to the face, “…well, yes we have that, but we have to show MSRP and that’s not the real price…limited quantities. It’ll take you at least $20K above list to work a deal”.
Well KMA! Should have known better, but it made me want it worse; in Sublime Green, a six speed, with the works…and any color interior but black! This was January 2015, right after the New Year.
So I’m at the Chevrolet dealership, looking at a slightly used ZL1, burgundy red with black interior…I am not a black interior fan, and the price is higher than I want to pay for used. My thirteen year old, who’s a couple inches shy of 6 feet but thankfully inherited his mother’s slim build and wide receiver hips, slides out of the seat of the ZL1 and says, “Dad, you can do better than this. I like the Challenger better and so do you. Look around; tons of Camaros on the street…that’s not you”. Well, my eyes welled up and I gave him a hug in broad daylight, on the shoulder of Highway 85 South, right on the dealer’s lot, and said a weepy, “…thanks, son, I needed that”. Yep, PDA and it felt great!
Yes as you probably figured out by now, there I am at 600 feet indicated altitude (highest point in Florida), car trolling the next morning…a Saturday. I’m researching autotrader one more time and spot a white, 6 speed, with black interior, 2015 Hellcat, sitting at a dealership about 8 hours away (useless to do the close searches when you live in the sticks, or darn near). I had spotted it before but discounted it as another lark, another dead end and another unhappy customer (me) on the end of the phone; plus it had black interior. My to-the-point-Jersey-Girl-off-of-exit-14-on-the-Turnpike said, “call the damn dealer. You’ve been whining about the Hellcat for six months”.
Ring, ring! “Yes, that vehicle is available, the MSRP is this, but we are asking a higher price”. Really? No surprise there until the salesman said, “…what are you offering? It’s been on the lot a couple of weeks with no real interest”.
I said, “my guess it’s the color (on the inside I was doing cheetah flips…I love bright white, I want a six speed…I could learn to like black interior) and that it’s a stick”. Reluctantly the salesman agreed, I made an offer, he got a green light and so did I.
At 12:25 pm, Saturday afternoon, I jumped into my trade with my overnight bag packed so my wife would be sure I was going to rest (no way I was going to hotel/motel it overnight…if I make this deal I am driving that baby home tonight!), my loan preapproval letter and a bucket full of “what the hell are you doing/wow/this is mid-life crisis/wow/they better not screw me/wow/are we there yet?” and made the trip. At 12:45 am, the next morning, straight from the dealership, after two engine stalls, after one minor panic attack when I thought the radio wiring was on the fritz but it turned out to be that it just turned the volume down by itself as you came to a way-point in the nav system, and after a serious endorphin rush cruising I-75 North, I found myself homeward bound West on I-10. The Hellcat was purring, the darkness was engulfing everything except where my HID optics were illuminating the way, my sitting position was perfect and I was becoming one with my temptress…even with black interior.
Sunday morning and three hundred and fifty-four miles later, I’m pulling up in my garage, shutting down the beast and feeling like I had just won the lottery. Flawless, flawless, flawless.
Eye candy for the other drivers and a near orgasmic experience for me; ownership has its advantages. I have never had a first drive like that one. Other than all the times I strap myself into the White Rocket (now affectionately named Plain Jane), I will never have another first anything that good…my teenage days are in my rearview mirror. But that phone call, that round trip, that sound and that drive made me feel eighteen and invigorated. Maybe I should deduct my payments on next year’s returns under medical deductions…physical therapy. Why not, the White House can get away with anything, why not me (us), why not now? Thanks for reading!